Legislators File School Funding Bill

Texas State Capitol

AUSTIN (February 20, 2009)-State legislators filed a bill Thursday that could change how school districts statewide receive funding.

School districts in Central Texas have recently been hit hard by a drop in attendance which, in turn, has lead to a drop in state funding.

Senate Bill 982 would replace the current school finance system with a formula that takes student attendance into account and provides more money for students in special programs like bilingual education and special education.

The recently file legislation would also require school districts to cut their property tax rates if the district gets more than 200 dollars per student from the state for two consecutive years.

During a 2006 school finance overhaul, the Legislature provided tax relief to property owners by setting limits on districts' maintenance and operating tax rates.

Increases in local property tax revenue triggered a reduction in the state's contribution.

Since then, school leaders statewide have been calling for changes this session.

Many districts have been cutting programs and dipping heavily into savings to make up for multimillion-dollar budget shortfalls.

Crawford ISD recently decided to shut the doors to its middle school, condensing the students into the elementary and high schools because of a half million dollar budget shortfall.

SB 982, as proposed, would use the Austin school district as the benchmark for determining funding to every school district.

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